Cancer is one of the most dreaded words that anyone can hear at the doctor’s office. Skin cancer is estimated to affect up to half of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 here in America. Skin cancers include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. These skin cancers most often start as changes to the skin, making it necessary to examine your own skin thoroughly and to have any suspicious moles, spots, or lesions addressed immediately.
In most cases, skin cancer can be effectively treated and cured if early intervention is given. However, it is often found that many patients either ignore a suspicious spot or that they do not know what to look for. A mole is a benign growth of melanocytes, or a growth of specific “colored” cells. Most moles develop during youth, and it is uncommon to acquire a mole in the adult years unless a concern is present. This is a first step in identifying skin cancer: if a new mole or growth appears after the age of 25, it should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
For self-evaluation purposes, medical professionals came up with the ABCDEs of melanoma. These are specific characteristics that help to identify any type of mole or spot that should be checked by your dermatologist.
- A: Asymmetry – the appearance of one half of a mole does not match the other half.
- B: Border irregularity – the edges of a mole are ragged, blurred, or notched.
- C: Color – the color (pigmentation) of a mole is not uniform.
- D: Diameter – larger than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser)
- E: Evolution – evolving or changing appearance. This is the most important factor when it comes to evaluating a mole. Any change in size, color, or appearance should be brought to your dermatologist’s attention immediately.
At Medical Dermatology Specialists in Atlanta, Dr. Jamie Weisman is a nationally recognized dermatologist who brings a new level of care to patients with skin concerns. If one or more of your moles shows signs of cancer, our practice will provide personalized treatment with the most progressive and effective skin care techniques available. If you have a suspicious mole or need a routine skin cancer screening, please contact our practice today.